Rae & Christian - Manchester Ritz - 14.6.01

It seems like everyone who's anyone is in the house tonight and that can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what stance you take. With a few exceptions (Take That, Cleopatra, Simply Red) Manchester has always been known as guitar music central. Remember the days of the Roses or the days where everyone wore those James T-shirts. Well get with the nu-millenium cos' Manchester's whistling to a new tune and Rae & Christian are just about the Godfathers of the Grand Central team.

Saying that its been touch and go for a few years now. I recall the days when they were sandwiched between the ghost of Manchester Past - Audioweb and The Dust Junkies. Whatever you say these bands rocked and as what can only be described as the weakest link Rae & Christian hit the stage with their own brand of white-boy hip hop. Never good at the best of times but when you've only got a few mates to back you up while the rest of the crowd desert you its a memory I'm sure they'd rather forget.

Fast forward to the year 2001 - the second albums hit the shops and a homecoming show sold out in a matter of weeks. It would be easy to say that they've prospered through the association of Bobby Womack and Pharcyde but when these guys hit the decks with just a few friends to help them its proof that they can stand on their own. Grand Centrals Veba and Fingathing keep it all in the family while Supernatural is just a revelation. Freestyling like you wouldn't believe it and in some respect stealing the show - if you ever thought hip-hop was about a couple of lazy rhymes then just watch this guy work his magic and stand there frozen with dis-belief.

Whether we'll look back in several years with the same sort of fondness we did for Madchester is anyone's guess. But Rae & Christian are breaking the rules as to what is considered a core hip-hop audience. There's people here tonight who would have laughed a few years ago at the thought of watching a couple of DJ's and hopefully vice-versa there will be a hip-hop following that takes something from the live band. If they're not around in 5 years time then at least they're safe in the knowledge that there's a few kids in their bedrooms making music as a result of this gig.

Alex McCann